"A Tale of Two Cities," Part 3

The French Revolution comes vividly to life in this novel by Charles Dickens: "A Tale of Two Cities," (1859)

Learn these word lists: Part 1, Part 2: Chapters 1-14, Part 2: Chapters 15-24, and Part 3.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. capricious
    determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity
    Every town-gate and village taxing-house had its band of citizen-patriots, with their national muskets in a most explosive state of readiness, who stopped all comers and goers, cross-questioned them, inspected their papers, looked for their names in lists of their own, turned them back, or sent them on, or stopped them and laid them in hold, as their capricious judgment or fancy deemed best for the dawning Republic One and Indivisible, of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death.
  2. ingress
    the act of entering
    Looking about him while in this state of suspense, Charles Darnay observed that the gate was held by a mixed guard of soldiers and patriots, the latter far outnumbering the former; and that while ingress into the city for peasants' carts bringing in supplies, and for similar traffic and traffickers, was easy enough, egress, even for the homeliest people, was very difficult.
    The opposite of egress.
  3. egress
    the act or means of going out
    Looking about him while in this state of suspense, Charles Darnay observed that the gate was held by a mixed guard of soldiers and patriots, the latter far outnumbering the former; and that while ingress into the city for peasants' carts bringing in supplies, and for similar traffic and traffickers, was easy enough, egress, even for the homeliest people, was very difficult.
    The opposite of ingress.
  4. noisome
    causing or able to cause nausea
    Extraordinary how soon the noisome flavour of imprisoned sleep, becomes manifest in all such places that are ill cared for!
  5. staid
    characterized by dignity and propriety
    For, what would staid British responsibility and respectability have said to orange-trees in boxes in a Bank courtyard, and even to a Cupid over the counter?
  6. blighted
    affected by something that prevents growth or prosperity
    He sat by a newly-lighted wood fire (the blighted and unfruitful year was prematurely cold), and on his honest and courageous face there was a deeper shade than the pendent lamp could throw, or any object in the room distortedly reflect -- a shade of horror.
  7. visage
    the human face
    The grindstone had a double handle, and, turning at it madly were two men, whose faces, as their long hair Rapped back when the whirlings of the grindstone brought their faces up, were more horrible and cruel than the visages of the wildest savages in their most barbarous disguise.
  8. impetuous
    characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
    His streaming white hair, his remarkable face, and the impetuous confidence of his manner, as he put the weapons aside like water, carried him in an instant to the heart of the concourse at the stone.
  9. implore
    call upon in supplication
    "As a wife and mother," cried Lucie, most earnestly, "I implore you to have pity on me and not to exercise any power that you possess, against my innocent husband, but to use it in his behalf.
  10. suppliant
    one praying humbly for something
    Madame Defarge looked, coldly as ever, at the suppliant, and said, turning to her friend The Vengeance:
  11. amiably
    in a friendly manner
    "All curious to see," thought Mr. Lorry, in his amiably shrewd way, "but all natural and right; so, take the lead, my dear friend, and keep it; it couldn't be in better hands."
    "Amiably" is very similar to the other vocabulary word "amicably" (in Part 2, Chapters 15-24). They are almost written the same and they come from the same roots, but they are a little different. Amiable means good-natured or likable, which is usually used for one person's disposition. Amicable means characterized by goodwill, and this is between people or groups.
  12. alluvial
    relating to deposits carried by rushing streams
    Equality, Fraternity, or Death, declared for victory or death against the world in arms; the black flag waved night and day from the great towers of Notre Dame; three hundred thousand men, summoned to rise against the tyrants of the earth, rose from all the varying soils of France, as if the dragon's teeth had been sown broadcast, and had yielded fruit equally on hill and plain, on rock, in gravel, and alluvial mud...
  13. deluge
    an overwhelming number or amount
    What private solicitude could rear itself against the deluge of the Year One of Liberty -- the deluge rising from below, not falling from above, and with the windows of Heaven shut, not opened!
    Compare with with the vocabulary word "inundation" (in Part 2, Chapters 15-24). "Deluge" typically means a heavy rain or an overflowing of water, but here in "A Tale of Two Cities," it is used figuratively to describe the force of the French Revolution as it comes up from the lower classes to "inundate" the whole country. Instead of rain, the deluge here are the poor people who have decided that they will fight against the king and take over the country.
  14. slake
    satisfy, as thirst
    Lovely girls; bright women, brown-haired, black-haired, and grey; youths; stalwart men and old; gentle born and peasant born; all red wine for La Guillotine, all daily brought into light from the dark cellars of the loathsome prisons, and carried to her through the streets to slake her devouring thirst.
    Slake is used figuratively in this sample sentence to describe the thirst the guillotine has for the people's blood.
  15. inclement
    severe, of weather
    When it was not too wet or inclement for her child to be with her, they went together; at other times she was alone; but, she never missed a single day.
    Compare with the vocabulary word "clemency" (in Part 2, Chapters 1-14).
  16. scaffold
    a platform from which criminals are executed
    Every one of those had perished in the massacre; every human creature he had since cared for and parted with, had died on the scaffold.
    A variation on the symbol for the vocabulary word "gallows" (from Part 1).
  17. pestilence
    any epidemic disease with a high death rate
    In seasons of pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to the disease -- a terrible passing inclination to die of it.
  18. turbulent
    characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
    Looking at the Jury and the turbulent audience, he might have thought that the usual order of things was reversed, and that the felons were trying the honest men.
  19. zealous
    marked by active interest and enthusiasm
    After grasping the Doctor's hand, as he stood victorious and proud before him; after grasping the hand of Mr. Lorry, who came panting in breathless from his struggle against the waterspout of the Carmagnole; after kissing little Lucie, who was lifted up to clasp her arms round his neck; and after embracing the ever zealous and faithful Pross who lifted her; he took his wife in his arms, and carried her up to their rooms.
  20. gregarious
    temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others
    They both looked to the right and to the left into most of the shops they passed, had a wary eye for all gregarious assemblages of people, and turned out of their road to avoid any very excited group of talkers.
    Compare with the vocabulary word "convivial" (in Part 2, Chapters 1-14).
  21. vindicate
    maintain, uphold, or defend
    That somebody was assassinated by somebody vindicating a difference of opinion was the likeliest occurrence.
  22. prevaricate
    be deliberately ambiguous or unclear
    "Don't prevaricate," said Mr. Lorry.
  23. peroration
    the concluding section of a rhetorical address
    That, Mr. Lorry," said Mr. Cruncher, wiping his forehead with his arm, as an announcement that he had arrived at the peroration of his discourse, "is wot I would respectfully offer to you, sir.
  24. malevolent
    wishing or appearing to wish evil to others
    She knew full well that Miss Pross was the family's devoted friend; Miss Pross knew full well that Madame Defarge was the family's malevolent enemy.
  25. expiation
    compensation for a wrong
    I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through tong long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.

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